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Muckrakers and Social Issues

Read about the rise of muckraking journalism and then examine three different examples: a photograph, an editorial cartoon, and an excerpt from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Describe how each example helped the public understand the social issues and newsworthy events of the era.

Clarifying Questions

  • What is muckraking?
  • What types of social problems did the muckrakers expose?


  • muckrakers: Muckrakers were early 20th-century journalists who exposed social and political problems during the Progressive Era.
  • Progressive Era: The Progressive Era extended from the 1890s-1910s and was characterized by influential thinkers and social reformers intent on solving many social and political problems of the period.
  • Jacob Riis:Jacob Riis, a photojournalist during the 1880s-1900s, exposed poor living conditions of immigrants in New York through his vivid photography and writing. He was a precursor to muckraking reformers, as a beat reporter during the end of the 19th century.
  • The Jungle: The Jungle, originally written by Upton Sinclair in 1905 and serialized in The Appeal to Reason, exposed the problems in the meat packing industry during the 1860s to 1870s involving the slaughter, processing, and packing of meat from animals. Problems depicted in the book shed light on food safety and conditions for workers and ultimately led to the passage of the Food and Drug Act in 1906.

MLA Citation

"Muckrakers and Social Issues." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2232100?cid=272. Accessed 6 Dec. 2019.

Entry ID: 2232100

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